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Communication costs and the boundaries of the firm

Casson, M. and Wadeson, N. ORCID: (1998) Communication costs and the boundaries of the firm. International Journal of the Economics of Business, 5 (1). pp. 5-27. ISSN 1466-1829

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/13571519884549


Much has been written about where the boundaries of the firm are drawn, but little about what occurs at the boundaries themselves. When a firm subcontracts, does it inform its suppliers fully of what it requires, or is it willing to accept what they have available? In practice firms often engage in a dialogue, or conversation, with their suppliers, in which at first they set out their general requirements, and only when the supplier reports back on how these can be met are their more specific requirements set out. This paper models such conversations as a rational response to communication costs. The model is used to examine the impact of new information technology, such as CAD/CAM, on the conduct of subcontracting. It can also be used to examine its impact on the marketing activities of firms. The technique of analysis, which is based on the economic theory of teams, has more general applications too. It can be used to model all the forms of dialogue involved in the processes of coordination both within and between firms.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Economics
ID Code:37811

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